When the day came, I asked Eric to play those songs again. Eric obliged, and as soon as I heard Gloria Gaynor’s powerful voice, I started pedaling faster and “dancing” (aka moving the top of my body) all the while. And as I was dancing, my eyes welled up: I recalled another conversation with Eric, in which I’d learned about what had happened to me after I was already settled in a room in the hospital waiting for the operation; how I’d stopped swallowing and breathing, and the neurosurgeon and his team had to intubate me and perform an emergency operation. Eric said the neurosurgeon had saved my life. I remembered nothing about this episode – all my memories were about the (non-existent) first operation to extract my hemangioma.
After more than three years, I found out that I hadn’t had one but two death-threatening experiences. This discovery lent the song its actual weight. Listening to “I Will Survive” elicited in me the combination of three feelings: euphoria, desolation, and a will to look forward instead of backward. My cousin had been right (I write about her comments on another chapter). Doing my exercises faithfully meant more than listening to self-imposed high standards – it meant having a strong determination to live.